Seat belt usage by commercial drivers has jumped from 65% to 86% over past decade. It is 90% among all road users.
For decades, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and state enforcement agencies have been mandating, encouraging, and enforcing seat belt laws to improve usage among drivers of commercial vehicles.
The good news: it appears the majority of drivers have gotten the message. In 2007, seat belt usage among commercial vehicle drivers stood at 65%. In every survey conducted since then (2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016), the numbers continue to improve. According to the Seat Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, usage increased from 83% in 2013 to 86% in 2016.
What has caused this increased emphasis on seatbelt usage by commercial vehicle drivers? Could aggressive enforcement be driving compliance with seatbelt laws? Some say it’s because of the change in enforcement, but majority say the praise must go to the carriers and drivers themselves. This suggests fleets have integrated a number of actions to make their drivers to buckle up.
For instance, many company-written driver policies contain seat belt statements and supervisors strongly emphasize seatbelt usage. At some companies, progressive disciplinary policies for non-compliance don’t go easy on violators. Additionally, some companies offer incentives for seatbelt use and safe driving habits.
Sometimes just improving the visibility of the issue leads to positive changes. Using brightly colored seatbelts has made identification of violators easier for both law enforcement and company safety department personnel. Visible reminders posted in the cab, on mirrors, and on paperwork all serve to reinforce the use of seatbelts.
The Governors Highway Safety Association states that in 2016 seat belt usage among all road users was at 90%. While CMV drivers lag behind, they are doing a good job of improving that percentage and protecting themselves by buckling up.
While 100% seat belt usage is definitely the goal, this steady increase is something of which everyone can be proud. Continued perseverance will not only increase seat belt usage, but more importantly, it will serve to save lives across the nation